DANNY Stewart’s first taste of coaching has been a story of broken promises – but one he is pleased to have taken on.
Stewart’s time as player-coach of the Newcastle Vipers is coming to an end.
The Elite League season finishes on Sunday, and the chances of the club being back for another look pretty slim.
Their hand-to-mouth existence bears no relation to the vision Stewart claims to have been sold by former owner Paddy O’Connor. He is disappointed with that, but proud of how his team have fought the odds.
Stewart, shortlisted as the league’s coach of the year, said: “I don’t think people from outside can truly understand the adversity we had to face on an everyday basis, but they recognised we battled to the end.
“Who should take the fall, I will not go into. Lots of things were out of control.
“I don’t think Jaimie (Longmuir) could have expected to be left in this situation without any owners, but he has done a great job to get us to the end of the season.”
General manager Longmuir was left running the club alone when O’Connor withdrew over Christmas.
He is leading the search for a new owner, but the signs are not promising.
“It was a tough year mentally and physically but I don’t regret it because Jaimie Longmuir stuck to his word,” Stewart added pointedly.
“There were lots of things I was promised by the previous ownership but it seems to have just been talk.
“I don’t regret coming here, though, because we made it a special season.
“We became a tight group and formed great relationships.
“I am so proud of everyone who contributed, paid staff or volunteers.
“It was unfortunate we were not able to increase the number of fans coming into Whitley Bay, but they were promised things which did not materialise as well.”
Stewart says he is yet to be offered any coaching jobs for next season.
Although he is prepared to return to the ranks or move abroad, the Elite League would be much poorer without his skills.
He added: “Time will tell if it does benefit me but I learned a lot about myself.
“You learn a lot about yourself in adversity and we had our fair share. I maybe learned more than I was ready for.
“If a good coaching situation came up I would be interested, but I would be very careful not to put myself in the same situation. If that means going back to playing, so be it.
“In a month’s time a few more coaching positions might be open in England, but if it means moving elsewhere, I am prepared to.”